Natural Resource Management in high priority areas

The Blyde and Klaserie Catchments are renowned for their biodiversity and protection of key watersheds and yet the continued degradation of ecosystems through invasion by alien plants (IAPs) constitutes a major threat to biodiversity and ecosystem services. The area has been partially protected through the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, and has been the site of major historical restoration efforts by government through Working for Water, the private sector and AWARD during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Government investment in restoration in this area continued over the last decade, however our collaborative assessment with roleplayers during 2015 and 2016 suggests that degradation continues. Our engagements with these roleplayers involved in IAP control and restoration in the area point to a number of challenges that hamper them from effectively achieving their goals. Three key challenges are:

  • the lack of coordinated and integrated restoration efforts by the various roleplayers involved,
  • the lack of a joint strategic long term plan to guide restoration efforts over the medium to long term, and
  • the uncertain and transitional institutional environment regarding land-ownership and land-management.

The objective of the Blyde Restoration project is to support the restoration of degraded ecosystems, and the maintenance of these and adjoining healthy ecosystems in the upper Blyde and adjacent upper Klaserie catchments, by key roleplayers, in order to sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services in this high priority area in the long term. We will to support the development of coordinated and integrated restoration and IAP control efforts both in the short and long term by natural resource and biodiversity management agencies working in the upper Blyde & upper Klaserie Catchments.

We seek to do this by focusing on collaborative strategic planning and action and skills development, new clearing approaches and better institutional arrangements. Dialogues on climate changeand adaptation strategies will also be undertaken.

Our main activities

  • collaborative development and implementation of a joint strategic plan for long term, coordinated and integrated restoration;
  • capacity development of practitioners on key skills within the restoration practice;
  • collaborative development of new IAP control methodologies and approaches;
  • enhanced collective action and
  • development of tenable and appropriate institutional arrangements

Efforts have been underway since 2015, with the first steps towards development of a long-term plan as well as capacity building being initiated in 2016. The development of institutional arrangements between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) has also been initiated, and the development of further necessary arrangements amongst other stakeholders is being planned with partners. The project is already seeing the emergence of various forms of coordination and collaboration amongst the role-players involved in restoration.

Blyde restoration stakeholders (NRM = Natural Resources Management; HAT= high altitude team; WoF = Working on Fire; MTPA = Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Authority; CPA = Common Property Associations)